Uganda’s Anti-LGBTQ Law Raises Alarms, Risks Global Backlash

Ugandan President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni signs the Anti- Homosexuality Bill. Photo/Twitter

Uganda has once again made headlines with its latest move to further limit the rights of LGBTQ individuals. On May 4th, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed a bill into law that imposes harsh punishments on anyone found to be engaging in “promotion” of homosexuality. This law further marginalizes LGBTQ individuals in Uganda and has caused international outrage.

Uganda has a long and complex history with LGBTQ rights. Homosexuality was criminalized in Uganda under British colonialism in the late 1800s, and remained so after independence. Since the 1990s, there have been several attempts to introduce legislation to further criminalize homosexuality which includes having gay sex when HIV-positive, and a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality. In 2009, a bill was proposed that would have imposed the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” Despite widespread international condemnation, the bill was reintroduced in 2013, prompting further outrage and negotiations. The bill was eventually signed into law in 2014, but was later struck down by a court in Uganda.

In May 2023, the Ugandan government passed another anti-LGBTQ law that imposes harsh punishments on anyone found to be engaging in “promotion” of homosexuality. The law imposes a penalty of up to five years in prison for anyone who participates in an LGBTQ-related activity, including advocating for LGBTQ rights or providing healthcare to LGBTQ individuals.

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Global Reaction

The law has been met with immediate international condemnation. Several countries have issued travel warnings to Uganda, and the United States has threatened to cut aid to the country. In addition, several organizations have called for a boycott of Ugandan goods and tourism, which could hurt the country’s economy.

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Anita Among, the parliament speaker, originally reported Museveni’s signing of the bill on Twitter.

“If the speaker has announced, then that’s true, he has signed,” Museveni’s spokesperson Faruk Kirunda told Reuters.

Authorities have admitted that the new rule could lead to sanctions against Uganda, which receives billions of dollars in foreign aid each year.

When Museveni passed a less stringent anti-LGBTQ bill in 2014, Western governments withdrew some money, imposed visa restrictions, and reduced security cooperation.

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